End of round 23 - Have we improved?

I thought before a finals, it is the right time to discuss the teams improvement or otherwise.


In 2013, we won more games and kicked more goals.


In 2014, our defence has less goals kicked against them, we introduced a number of first gamers with Zac Merrett, Ashby, Ambrose, Gleeson probably the standouts. Hepps had a good year and is knocking on the door of elite, Clunk, Paddy and Pig on the verge of All Australian, and Jobe, BJ and Stants all performed well. Myers has played well and still has improvement in him.


We expected more of Joe, but his potential is huge and most of us can see that next years will be huge for him. Hurley was much more consistent and Jake can play both ends, question is where are they best.


Zaka, Howlett, Melksham and Demps have not had great years. Though at times all haven’t in great efforts.


So are we better than 2013 ?

Yes.

Is it too early to review this year?

Well we are playing finals

No, we still lose games we should win.

Khris Caias

Yeah, nah.

I think there is a better foundation to build on than there was last year and the rock that our defence has become is something to behold. However, the problems in our forward line and the skittish manner we play are serious problems.

We have definitely improved. Our back 6 are just about the best in the league. Our midfield has improved overall, especially Myers. Our forward line remains a huge issue but even then I can see where it is heading. We have recruited well over the past 3 years and it is starting to show on the field.

 

The biggest improvement has been that we don't get blown off the park anymore which in turn at least gives an opportunity to win or at least minimize the damage.

 

Round 23 version of 2014 would defeat the round 23 version of 2013 by about 60 points.

 

Another couple of questions are - how we improved enough and will we continue to improve? Where do we fit in relative to the top 4 teams? The next couple of weeks will in part answer those questions.

I think the key improvement in 2014 (over and above what you listed in the OP) is our ability to run out the year and finish winning games. The last few years we have been spent by round 17 or earlier and barely won a game late in the season. This year we have finished stronger but not fantastic yet.  Next year we need to become like Richmond this year...finish with 9 wins going into finals!  We don't want there slow start though....  I think Bombers experience developing Geelong has helped us through this improvement...that is why it is essential taht he is still with us next year to pass that experience on to Hirdy.

 

I also believe our defence now is capable of helping us win finals....that is the other big improvement.  To be where we are with the loss of Crameri in the forward line is a fantastic achievement. Ambrose could be a good replacement for Crameri but is not quite as effective at kicking goals yet, so there is still upside there yet.

A good measure of the teams position and improvement will be how we play in this final against norf. if we get blown off the park yet again ( which I do not believe we will nor is it likely ), it will be seen as no or little improvement IMO. Against that, this year we are closer to be able to go deeper into the finals as we are likely in the past ten years. We still have personnel shortage in the forward line to be able to make a run for the top 4 but I hope this will be plugged within the next couple of seasons.

2016 will be my money for the year EFC make top 4.

its a bit hard to tell when everyone from the government to the feral in the outer has been ■■■■■■■■ on you constantly all year.


We made the finals this year despite unbelievable distractions. It seems churlish to be critical at this stage.
However, I don't think we have improved as we still have the same vulnerability that has plagued us for a number years, which doesn't seem to get addressed. There may be some improvements as previously listed, but we still have a mental weakness that holds us back. It was on display yesterday.
We don't seem to be able to put sides away and we fall to sides well below us on the ladder and below us in ability.
We never know which Essendon will turn up. The attacking free flowing team or the lazy static one.
Real improvement will be evident when we can perform consistently at the level we are capable of.

My overall feel is that if we had Gunston and Breust we'd win the flag. We just lack forwards with smarts to convert. So many games we've dominated the inside 50 count for an unworthy return.

 

Couldn't be more pleased with the backline. For a decade we had to watch as our backline was routed the moment the opposition got momentum. We couldn't handle big forwards. We were destroyed and laughed at by small forwards. The coaching crew over 4 years have set in place a fantastic foundation. The backline has improved further this year and thats saying somethnig because its really the year where Fletch has dropped off. Baguley has gone to another level. I'm astounded by his development. Hurls has been huge and his kicking has replaced Fletch's. Without Fletch, we really rely on Hurls 50-60 kicks. Hurls also provides the ability to power through packs at ground level, sending tackling arms haplessly flying. Hooker has been incredible and Hibbo unlucky again to get injured as he was hitting form. I wouldn't say Demps has had a bad year. I think Demps has improved and is more defensive. I didn't see Yarran do much on the weekend and saw Demps mow him down on a number of occasions.

 

The mids I think have gone up a level too. In a year largely without Watson. Heppell has turned elite - he's really looking like he'll get to Pendlebury levels now. Myers has matured and is a bit more consistent. Ryder incredible without support. Hocking solid as usual. Zaka has been on a learning curve to be more defensive minded. He is not seagulling (Sidebottoming) as much, which is a strange one to judge, because you see slightly less of the flashy stuff and it seems like he hasn't been as good. Yet he popped up with 2 goals in red time to nearly win the Melbourne game and nailed the winning goal versus West Coast, so I consider it a positive that he is being worked on to be a rounded player. Coyler has finally come good and gives us that explosive pace we've missed.

 

Regarding the forwards, the 2nd quarter v Carlton where Joe just got on top is where I hope our future lies. I envisage that happening most quarters of most games. Lloyd like. The forward coaches have had a hard time with their pre season plans falling into dissaray with Bellchambers going down and then after reshuffling and achieving the great opening start to the year, they lost Ambrose. We also lost Crammers and Davey, Kommer and Watson is also a handy goal contributor when he rests forward.  We've definately only tread water with the forward line but given the player turnover and injuries Bassett has done a pretty good job. With a full fit compliment hopefully we find that they are better than it appeared this year. We need to add a couple of smart natural goal kicking medium sized forwards though. Luckily we have a better compliment to chose from now that we've made finals. Fingers crossed they'll unleash and win a couple of finals and maybe we might asesss the forward line as looking ok.

It appears that the fitness level has improved.  I say appears.  Because after round 16 there was  a meltdown and a run of 5 or so losses that were widely attributed to the saga.     In that respect we have improved.   In terms of ladder position,  if we had won say,  3 out of those 5 we would have been a top 2 side 

2014: If we had beaten Melbourne and St Kilda, we would be top 4 

 

What has happened is the teams are performing about the same over all but the emphasis has changed 

 

2014  a better defence weaker attack

2013  a better attack,  weaker defence.  

 

Result same.

 

In a nutshell,  Loss of Crameri and Bellchambers was only just balanced by incremental improvements of Heppel,  Myers and covered by the fantastic year that Paddy Ryder put together rucking almost single handed.

 

Summary for the 2 coaches:  

Bomber a better defensive coach.  Bomber wants to get defence right as the foundation

Hird a better forward coach.   Hirdy concentrates on attack,   which is where he played all his career.

 

IMO, contracts willing, permitting  Bomber should stay on as senior assistant coach/ defence/ player development.

Or kick Neil Craig out and give the job to bomber.

Only one 50+ point flogging this year.

Improvement.

I thought before a finals, it is the right time to discuss the teams improvement or otherwise.
In 2013, we won more games and kicked more goals.
In 2014, our defence has less goals kicked against them, we introduced a number of first gamers with Zac Merrett, Ashby, Ambrose, Gleeson probably the standouts. Hepps had a good year and is knocking on the door of elite, Clunk, Paddy and Pig on the verge of All Australian, and Jobe, BJ and Stants all performed well. Myers has played well and still has improvement in him.
We expected more of Joe, but his potential is huge and most of us can see that next years will be huge for him. Hurley was much more consistent and Jake can play both ends, question is where are they best.
Zaka, Howlett, Melksham and Demps have not had great years. Though at times all haven't in great efforts.
So are we better than 2013 ?

 

Going to nitpick here, but Zaharakis has probably had a career best last 2/3rds of this season.

 

Even in his more quiet games through the latter half he's managed to be damaging with the ball and his pace.
Couple of people have been dissing Zaharakis and im not entirely sure why.

Only one 50+ point flogging this year.
Improvement.

 

Thats actually something I value. I farking hate it when you think you are starting to turn into a good side and you get walloped.

 

For the first time this year, I've turned up to every game believing we could win.

 

The Freo Essendon match would have been a good one if half the team didn't have gastro.

 

Sydney is the only side who I don't think we could beat. (But that was concluded post match. The pricks are too strong. They'll waltz in for the flag this year)


I thought before a finals, it is the right time to discuss the teams improvement or otherwise.
In 2013, we won more games and kicked more goals.
In 2014, our defence has less goals kicked against them, we introduced a number of first gamers with Zac Merrett, Ashby, Ambrose, Gleeson probably the standouts. Hepps had a good year and is knocking on the door of elite, Clunk, Paddy and Pig on the verge of All Australian, and Jobe, BJ and Stants all performed well. Myers has played well and still has improvement in him.
We expected more of Joe, but his potential is huge and most of us can see that next years will be huge for him. Hurley was much more consistent and Jake can play both ends, question is where are they best.
Zaka, Howlett, Melksham and Demps have not had great years. Though at times all haven't in great efforts.
So are we better than 2013 ?


Going to nitpick here, but Zaharakis has probably had a career best last 2/3rds of this season.
Even in his more quiet games through the latter half he's managed to be damaging with the ball and his pace.
Couple of people have been dissing Zaharakis and im not entirely sure why.

Agreed.
He has gone to another level in the second half of the year.

we are 2 wins better off than 2009 and half a game worse off than 2011.

 

We've had improvement in some areas, and individual players, but we've had that every year since 09, it doesn't mean much when you don't improve in the worst areas however.

 

We may be better in some areas than even back as far as 09, but we are still no where near good enough sadly, with "arguably" the best coach of the last decade (other peoples words) still after 4 years unable to know how to unlock players abilities to be as professional as they can be.